The Accident Season

Book review by
Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media
The Accident Season Book Poster Image
Haunting, beautiful tale of love, pain, and secrets.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Mentions of famous writers and classic books, including Wuthering Heights, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan, On the Road, and Sylvia Plath. Some information on Irish geography: Galway, Dublin, Ballina, Castlebar, and County Mayo.

Positive Messages

Trust that those closest to you love you and want to help you. Even though friendships can change over time, they will last if they're built on trust and respect. Be true to yourself. Sometimes you need to share your secrets to help yourself cope with the sadness, fear, or shame they're causing you.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cara, Sam, Alice, and Bea all care for and look out for one another. Seth's an understanding and caring uncle to Cara and Alice.



Many accidents -- big and small -- but most not described graphically. Characters frequently fall, resulting in injuries ranging from cuts and scrapes to broken bones and concussion; boy's mouth is bloodied after getting hit by a ball; bookcase falls on girl; teen girl injured when bridge collapses; kids run into electric fence and get knocked unconscious. Many recollections of past accidents and injuries, including falls, scrapes, broken bones, and a man's death from hitting his head on a rock in a river. Teen and adult hit by a car in separate accidents. One of these accidents is described in detail, including a joint out of socket, broken bones, glass imbedded in skin, and bleeding wounds. Teen girl in abusive relationship that results in injuries. Teens in a house fire that results in burns and broken bones. Character recollects someone attempting to drown her. Implied molestation.


Kissing, French-kissing, and heavy making out with hands under clothes. Mention of teen and young adult having had sex, including bondage that was initially consensual but turned nonconsensual.


Infrequent swearing: "s--t" and its variations, "f--k," "dammit," "a--hole," "goddamn," and "hell."


X-Acto, Converse, Dr. Martens, Band-Aid, Ace bandage, Where's Waldo, The Wizard of Oz, and The Princess Bride.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens smoke. Parent goes out for drinks with friends to cope with problems. Parent gives a beer to a teen, who gets tipsy from it. Parent drinks wine with friends, and one time they consume several bottles. Teens smoke a joint. Teens drink at parties and get drunk at a party they throw. Teens drink hot whiskey, sugar, and lemon.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Accident Season is a story of friendship, family, and long-buried secrets. For several years, Cara's family has experienced a surge of injury-inducing accidents every October. The book depicts one particularly dangerous October and how it affects the family and their friends. Many accidents are described, only a few graphically, including bloody injuries, broken bones, glass imbedded in skin, and joints knocked out of their sockets. Teens and adults drink. Teens smoke cigarettes and marijuana and sneak out to parties. Some kissing and making out and a reference to a teen character who's had sex. Swearing is infrequent and includes "s--t" and its variations and "f--k."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written bylokitoki November 2, 2016


I really liked the storyline of this book but it got muddied by all the immorality of it all. There's gay things in it, the main character ends up with her... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byPinapplethecamel January 1, 2016

Amazing, deep story that will keep you turning pages!

I personally loved the Accident Season. It had deep themes, and the characters weren't exactly role models, but it was interesting, quirky, and mysterious.... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE ACCIDENT SEASON, Cara and her family brace themselves every October for the inevitable bumps, bruises, broken bones, and concussions that haunt them year after year. It wasn't always this way, though. The kids can't remember much from before the accident seasons began, but they know serious events in their family's past are hidden and could possibly be the source of this month of danger. The sometimes mystical story follows Cara, her sister Alice, her ex-stepbrother Sam, and her best friend Bea through their friendships, love lives, and school lives. They deal with abusive relationships, forbidden love, and the mystery of a missing schoolmate, all while wondering when the next accident is going to befall them. Their bonds are tested as they dig into their pasts, unearthing disturbing realities and eerie incidents.

Is it any good?

Love, pain, secrets, and maybe even ghosts roil under the surface of this excellent debut coming-of-age novel. Author Moïra Fowley-Doyle incorporates elements of classic Irish ghost tales into her story of Cara's family's dangerous "accident season" each October. In facing danger after danger, the kids and their friend Bea grow and open up to one another in gripping and emotional ways. The story has a mystical, fantastical quality, but the emotional impact is genuine. Fowley-Doyle's writing is lyrical and beautiful. The teen characters are wonderfully drawn individuals who feel like real people and not the teen stereotypes that populate so many YA novels. In much of the book, the reader is confronted with situations that could be the imaginings of kids with active and creative minds or could be the result of something otherworldly, an approach that works to heighten the story's tension.

The first third of the book is slow in gaining traction. Characters keep getting hurt, which is supposed to make the reader feel a looming malevolence over the family, but it doesn't ring true initially. Also, the vague notion of family secrets is mentioned frequently early in the book, but they don't come into play until closer to the end. Merely mentioning the idea of "secrets" doesn't build tension or intrigue. Dropping more hints earlier as to what these secrets are would have made the earlier chapters more compelling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about secrets. Do you think secrets do more damage the longer you keep them?

  • How did you like the otherworldly elements in the story? Why do you think books that explore the idea of ghosts and the paranormal are so popular? 

  • Do you journal or use any other means of privately expressing your secret thoughts? If so, does it help you? If not, do you think it would?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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